We had 3 yesterday: TokTek, alias Tom Verbruggen, The HandyDandy and Cathy van Eck's Hearing Sirens.

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The Handydandy (Bernhard Bauch, Florian Waldner, Gordan Savicic, Julia Staudach, Luc Gross, Nicolaj Kirisits) made a pretty fun gig by playing music on their mobile phones as if they were rock guitars. The phones, used only as interfaces, are connected via Bluetooth to a computer network, a virtual opposite to the "human network" music-band.

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TokTek's performance blew everyone's mind. The artist explores new modes of interaction in live performance. He structures the unbridle clicks and cuts of his circuit bend gadgets to a fragile disturbance. Sampling with a joystick Tom creates unlogic dynamic compositions. Started by playing an old vinyl of lessons of french, then went wild with buttons, keyboards and knobs, later grabbed a joystick, then had a go at a guitar, kid's toys, etc.

0moedercak.jpgBy looking for information about Tom Verbruggen online i discovered another of his work called Moederkoek, which translated is mother-cake but refers in English to the placebo. Tom performs while his mother bakes a cake in a self-assembled kitchen. Tom samples his mum's baking and the sounds its produces in real-time to realize an improvised composition. At the end of the performance, the cake is baked and served to the audience.

He also creates installations such as the Crack-Canvas. Using STEIM crackle box hardware, the artist has created paintings that produce sound. Each painting can produce sound by itself but when connected with other paintings forms a ‘painting orchestra’. By connecting cables between the paintings, the sound changes, while the cables length, colour and form, form a drawing on the wall or in the space the paintings are hanging.

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Crack Canvas and Crackle Canvas

In the live version of the ‘Crackle-Canvas’, Tom invites the public to grab the cables and make their own compositions.

Tom Verbruggen is part of the New Interfaces for Performances programme.

Images of The HandyDandy performance and of TokTek's.

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Several posters were presented at the Mobile Music Workshop yesterday afternoon, a good opportunity to discover new projects and have a chat with their author.


Pocket Gamelan (PDF), developed by Greg Schiemer and Mark Havryliv, couldn't make it to Amsterdam on time (seems to be somewhere in the caring hands of the post) but that won't prevent me from mentioning it. The interactive musical interface allows non-expert performers to create microtonal music using bluetooth-enabled mobile phones. Players swing the handsets on the end of a cord in a circular trajectory. As the phone is swung it produces audible artefacts such as Doppler shift and chorusing which are generated as a bi-product of movement. The device works like a network of operations in which melodies and the speed at which they’re played can be altered.

Pocket Gamelan
, draws on Schiemer's "Tupperware Gamelan" instruments of the 70s and 80s. The custom-made electronic instruments, housed in plastic kitchenware, were designed for non-expert players and used in dance and performance (via.)

Video 1 and 2.

Related: the 1999 performance Improvisation for Two Altered Telephones.

Just back from a trip to Kreuzberg where i discovered an exhibition space called Ballhaus Naunynstraße. They are showing until tomorrow (April 30, from 8 p.m to 9 pm.) three sound installations which, coupled with some really nice falafels like they do only in that neighbourhood, made my Sunday afternoon.

As you enter the building you're greeted by 17 Hippies - Das Hip-O-Phon, a sound sculpture by Christopher Blenkinsop and Klaus Wagner. The wooden staircase that leads to the gallery is occupied by organ pipes up to 20 meters in length which create sound with material from the German band 17 Hippies.


Up the stairs, turn left and enter the room of O Telephone, an 8 channel sound installation developed by Berlin-based Canadian artist Don Ritter.

Six modified 1960’s telephones are installed in circle on black pedestals within a darkened room. They randomly ring, each with its own distinctive sound. If you pick up a phone that is ringing, a powerful yoga-like “om? is heard through the handset and through the speaker located where the dial of the phone used to be.

If other people answer other ringing phones, the resulting “om? sounds will pan through all the answered phones. Like the ringing, each phone has its own "om" voice, some male, other female. The telephones will eventually begin a composition comprised of the ringing and “om? sounds if they are not answered by viewers. The best way to enjoy the piece is to stand in the middle of the circle of phones, then it feels like the sounds are turning around you. There are 35 different voices. The artist actually used the voice of the people in his yoga class when he lived in New York.


I liked the installation for two reasons: first of all because the old phones, though modified, keep on being beautiful and even get a mysterious touch in the process. The experience was quite engaging as well. I was alone in the room going from one phone to the other, not sure i was understanding what was happening at first (that's a bad habit i have: i try to play then i read the accompanying notice) but totally enjoying it.

0tanzincshuih.jpgDown another staircase, turn left again to interact with Ingo Kniest's Tanz in Sicht, a series of life-size portraits individual taken out of the dance floor to pose for the artist in a mobile photo studio.

Sensors track your movements, and according to them, trigger pre-programmed audio loops, turning the space into a living soundscape. Observers of Kniest's shock-frozen portraits become the directors of new repetitive beats. Relationships here are reversed. The ecstatic dancers are captured utterly still; the visitors become the ever-moving mass.

Other art works using old-style telephones: the Four Ophones, Improvisation for Two Altered Telephones, Phones hanging from the ceiling; the Telephone Sheep.

0urbancamiopji.jpgUrban Interface Berlin is THE event of the moment i was really looking forward to enjoy slowly under the sunny days. Both an exhibition and research project, it aims to explore the interspaces between public and private urban space. From what i've seen so far, the selection of projects does a fantastic job at showing how broad and multifaceted the theme can be. All the artworks are also very accessible. Although i'm not crazy for all of them (but i'm getting ridiculously picky), i think that anyone --passerby, activist or new media art lover-- can engage with them and go back home with some elements to reflect upon. UIB lasts several weeks. Alas! i am spending most of that time out of Berlin.

I managed to attend the opening but ended up talking with people and didn't see any of the pieces (well, briefly and from afar). That's why i never go to openings. The day after i was off to that Milan design porn event. Today, hurray, i spent the afternoon chasing the UIB installations throughout the city. Tomorrow and next week i'm out of town again but i'll spend Saturday checking out the other installations.

Right! First stop on Ackerstrasse for Niklas Goldbach's fake construction signs.

Installed on two abandonned pieces of lands, they proudly notify passersby that some classy condominiums are going to be built on the land. One with office spaces "right on the pulse of the city", the other being targeted at well-off families. All amenities will be provided to ensure that buyers can enjoy a “safe? and comfortable life: shopping malls, a doorman, private parks, Starbuck cafe and Haagen Dazs icecream parlour on the street level, etc.).

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The images of the "future buildings" are in fact caricatures of existing buildings and city quarters. They are developed by the private sector and are increasingly shaping the cityscape of Berlin.

The headquarters of UIB are on Torstrasse, at the Sparwasser HQ gallery. That's where you can get to see and borrow for a few days The Head. The wearable sculpture, created by Finnish artist Laura Beloff, contains an “eye? which is a camera connected to a mobile phone which is in turn connected to the internet. Images and sounds are automatically recorded as soon as you send an SMS to The Head's phone (just text 0170 5544514.) The recorded files will then be relayed to you via MMS. The public can access all the images generated online.

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The Head has the mission to document public and private spaces throughout the event. However the wearer has no control on this access to her/his life from outside. As you can see on the images, The Head has partially melted. Made of plastic it didn't quite agree with the current sunny weather that Berlin is enjoying for a couple of months.

The image on the top of this post shows Daniel Jolliffe's Berliner Stimmen project. A yellow sculpture with a big red loudspeaker is mounted behind a bicycle. 3 times a week, Jolliffe is cycling through the borough of Mitte, Wedding and Gesundbrunnen, broadcasting previously recorded one-minute calls (digit 0800-7447000, leaving a message is free if you have a German phone number). The past realisations of the project under the name of One Free Minute in San José and Vancouver have shown that the callers use this public platform to utter private statements and stories as well as commercial announcements and political speeches. Listen to the recorded messages.

Images on flickr.

Yesterday in Soundbytes - Part 1, i gave a brief overview of the art works installed on the ground floor of the Edith Russ Haus in Oldenburg (Germany) for the Soundbytes - electronic and digital soundworlds exhibition.

Let's just get to the level below:

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Akitsugu Maebayashi's Metronome Piece is one of the highlights of the show for me. The artist went for a walk around Oldenburg bringing along a metronome. The clicks produced by the instrument work as 'sonar' which detects information of spaces, and the echoes of tick-tick were recorded binaurally through microphones in the artist's ears.

In the exhibition room, there's a table, a chair and headphones. As you walk near the chair the light dims and you're left with the sound of the metronome. Take the headphones and the experience becomes utterly strange. While you can still perceive the tick-tick (or people coming down the stairs above your head) coming through headphones, you're suddenly wandering the streets of Oldenburg on the steps of Akitsugu Maebayashi. You hear people walking by and talking under the rain, a truck passing, etc. The first time i even looked behind me to check who was there (no one of course, just an audio illusion). Another layer of space and time was overlapping with what was going on around me.


Harar (annicca), by Thomas Köner (of the Banlieu du Vide fame), is projected in the adjacent room. The work is part of the Péripheriques trilogy which shows patterns in the moves of people in the streets and detects stories in their faces. The videos were shooted in 3 different cities (Harar, Belgrade, and a favela in Buenos Aires), original sounds from the filming location blend with imaginary sounds.

Annina Rüst was showing Rock 'n' Scroll, a sound remixing system which allows anyone to use the computer as an acoustic instrument for interventions into wifi-equipped public space. Both mobile phones and computers are connected using a VOIP software. The sound itself is a combination of standard macintosh and windows sounds, as well as sounds included in the Skype software, and pre-made drumloops. There's also a delay effect that depend on how good the connection is.

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There were free softwares to take away!

The person who starts the performance has the most control (over the drum loop and the right mouse-button to turn on the microphone while turning off the rhythm.) Other participants function mainly as triggers. But no one has a total control over the whole performance.


Image fluctuat

A computer was showing the website of micromusic, a low-tech music community initiated by carl (Gino Esposto), wanga (Paco Manzanares) and bacon (Michael Burkhardt), famous for their performances and compositions that use Gameboys or vintage Atari consoles. The micomusic.net website reflects their objective to build an online community where visitors can listen to and download music and chat.

There are two other projects which i like a lot but i'll pass rapidly on them as i've blogged them before:

Jens Brand is showing G-Turns, the online version of the G-Players series, in an IKEA setting complete with price tags and a carpet with a wave-like pattern.

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Visitor can lie in Kaffe Matthews' Sonic Bed and enjoy the sound properties of experimental electronic music throughout their body. There is also a video of the "making of" of the piece.

In conclusion i'd say that the exhibition is really good. There's the fun, the loud, the introspective, the obscure, the aesthetically absorbing. It is not meant to be exhaustive but it gives an adequate overview of the many ways in which artists engage with sound materials these days. I guess i've been very lucky to visit the show on a quiet Thursday afternoon, i was able to enjoy each piece on my own without having to queue to be able to lay on the bed or having any sonic experience interrupted by other noises.

Flickr set.
At the Edith Russ Haus in Oldenburg, extended until April 29.

Related: Invisible Geographies: New Sound Art from Germany, an exhibition about the "physical" topography of sound at the Kitchen in New York.

0lephonono.jpgLast week in Oslo, i attended a very inspiring talk that Tom Igoe gave at the Oslo School of Architecture. He presented open source ideas and explained their impact on the way we think about space.

Among the projects he showed was Participatory Urbanism, a work by Eric Paulos, Ian Smith and RJ Honicky that turns the mobile phone into a “networked mobile personal measurement instrument."

On the one hand, there's a sophisticated device, the mobile phone, which provides us very little insight into the actual conditions of the terrain we traverse with it.

On the other hand is the fact that we must defer to a handful of civic government installed environmental monitoring stations that use extrapolation to derive a single air quality measurement for an entire metropolitan region. Such data doesn't reflect the dynamic variability arising from daily automobile traffic patterns, human activity, and smaller industries.

Carbon Monoxide readings made with taxicabs across Accra, Ghana

The goal of Participatory Urbanism is to provide mobile devices with new “super-senses? by enabling sensing technologies such as noise pollution, air quality, UV levels, water quality, etc. to be easily attached and used by anyone, especially non-experts.

Integrating simple air quality sensors into networked mobile phones promotes everyday citizens to uncover, visualize, and collectively share real-time air quality measurements from their own everyday urban lifestyles. This rich people-driven sensor data leverages community power imbalances, and can increase agency and decision maker understanding of a community's claims, thereby potentially increasing public trust.

Other projects Tom Igoe presented: Public Air Quality Indicator, Area's Immediate Reading and i'll add Neighbourhood Satellites.

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